Internal Beauty

(Torah Portion Miketz) Internal Beauty

The centerpiece of the City of Jerusalem was G-d’s magnificent and breathtaking Holy Temple on Mount Moriah.

The story of Chanukah occurred while Israel was ruled by the Greeks.

Unlike their predecessor, the Babylonians, who had captured the first Temple and then destroyed it, the Greeks plundered the Temple’s contents and turned it into a house of worship, rather than destroying it.

My father, Rabbi Boruch Saks wondered why the Greeks didn’t destroy the Temple. After all, the Greeks forbade the Jews from practicing circumcision, Shabbat, Holidays and study of Torah. It would seem natural for them to get rid of the Temple, the Jew’s source of spirituality.

He explained that the Greeks were possessed with external beauty. The name of the Greek’s forbearer is Yefes. Yefes is derived from the word Yafeh, which means beautiful.

When the Greeks advanced into the Temple they were stuck by its beauty and overcome by it. They couldn’t bring themselves to destroy such a beautiful structure. Instead they decided to keep it for themselves, converting and transforming it into a place of idol worship.

Yes, our Temple was a magnificent structure and the sacred vessels were constructed of the most precious materials in the most intricate manner – but for the Jews serving G-d – all the beauty was only a means for a deeper connection towards G-d through following His laws and protocol as established by the Torah.

After an arduous war fought against the massive Greek army, the relatively few Macabees were victorious and recaptured the Temple. Although under the circumstances it would have been okay to light the Temple Menorah with ritually impure olive oil, they did not want to rededicate the Menorah lighting procedure with such oil and therefore searched for the purest oil.

You see, the Jews weren’t interested in external beauty and the good feeling of lighting the Menorah with just anything. They wanted the source of the energy of the lights to be from the best – ritually pure oil.

They checked, searched and sifted the Temple for ritually pure olive oil – until they finally unearthed a single flask of pure oil with an authentic seal.

Additionally, because of the impure rampage of the Greeks, the Macabees did not use the beautiful pure golden Menorah that was always used; rather they kindled the pure oil on a simple makeshift Menorah. The miraculous occurred, and the single container of pure oil lasted for eight days – the time necessary for them to obtain more ritually pure oil.

Let’s contemplate for a moment: If the Jews would have settled on rededicating the Menorah with ritually impure oil, would the miracle of the Chanukah oil ever have happened? Certainly not!

When they filled the Menorah on the first evening with the entire contents of the pure oil, were they concerned about what would be the next night? Perhaps. But they felt that if they went the extra mile to rededicate the Temple in its purest fashion – they could trust in the Almighty that He would respond and ensure that the purity would continue. That’s exactly what occurred.

Each year during the Holiday of Chanukah – we can get recharged with this message of dedication and hope in Divine assistance. Whatever we set out to do in deepening our commitment to G-d and His Torah will receive His assistance.

The wondrous and unbelievable come about through genuine effort!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks